Album Review – Stabbed / Long Way Down (2017)

A beautiful step further in the promising career of a Hungarian Post-Sludge Metal act that presents to the listener a slightly different sounding, showcasing a mad balance of Progressive and Groove Metal.

Following the release of their ambitious 2016 EP Submerge, Hungarian Post-Sludge Metal act Stabbed returns now in 2017 with their first full-length installment, entitled Long Way Down, a beautiful step further in their promising career that presents to the listener a slightly different band, tipping the balance in favor of dominating, heavy grooves, overwhelming raw energy over dark ambience and Post-Rock elements, also showcasing a mad balance of Progressive and Groove Metal.

In addition, Long Way Down is not only the debut of bassist Marcell Demeter with Stabbed, replacing Dávid Roskó (who left the band by the end of 2016), but it also features a welcome surprise in the album closer performed by guest vocalist Tadeusz Rieckmann, primarily known as the drummer of Týr and Dalriada, and the artwork by longtime collaborator Zénó Farkas (Artphetamin), who returned for this album to represent the band visually and artistically. Throughout the album’s eight tracks, this Budapest-based group aimed at materializing through their cryptic lyrics and sharp sounds a portrait of a world full of angst ridden people running in circles, blinded by their fears and apathy, bringing a stronger taste to their musicality.

A modern intro grows into electrifying contemporary Sludge Metal with elements from Metalcore and Melodic Death Metal in the title-track Long Way Down, opening the album on a higher-than-usual note. Furthermore,  frontman Alex Karamuskó sounds bestial with his demented screams, while the guitar duo Attila Kecskés and Gergely Kovács are simply lancinating with their riffs, not to mention the amazing European melody supporting the song in the background. In the vicious Becoming, the whole band is in their most aggressive mode, sounding like an enraged hybrid of Sepultura from the Roots-era with Caliban, with Márk Potkovácz with his potent beats together with newcomer Marcell and his rumbling bass enhancing the song’s ravenousness considerably. Whereas in Tides a somber beginning led by Márk is gradually accompanied by both guitars and bass, before Alex comes with his blend of demonic growling and obscure clean vocals. In other words, this great display of their vibrant Post-Sludge Metal couldn’t sound more modern, metallic and consequently perfect for their live performances.

The following tune, titled Nyctalopia, brings forward more violent sounds with a precise harmonious base, becoming one of the band’s most progressive creations to date with all its breaks and variations, as well as its acid and darkling lyrics (“Descending from the coruscating lights / Into intangible doom / Chimerical phantoms tearing away / The spark from my weakened soul / Complacent proprietor in the house of lies / Leading my rendition to a Blind idiot God”). Then we have Lataris, which just like all of their songs is very cohesive and energetic, showcasing fierce riffs by both Attila and Gergely while Alex keeps hitting us with both his smooth, clean lines and his sick gnarls; and Mute, a song that clearly draws influences from bands like Pantera and Lamb of God in an aggressive mix of Sludge and Groove Metal, with Alex and Márk leading the musicality with their screams and beats respectively, sounding dark and gripping from start to finish.

In Devoid,  Stabbed slow down a little after all their usual display of anger, providing the listener a more melodic and alternative sonority where a solid instrumental with some spot-on guitar solos keeps the momentum going for the band, despite not being one of their best creations. And finally, featuring guest singer Tadeusz Rieckmann, Vessel displays an epic vibe in its intro, morphing into an obscure Post-Sludge Metal anthem with a Groove Metal twist,menacing guitars and bass, and poetic lyrics (“You have to spit to see the shine / Wallow in mud / Look all your demons in the eye / Killing your mind / We have not built this ship to wreck / On promised lands / Take nothing, fuck the test / All that you’ve bled”), as well as the raging guttural by Alex, flowing into an abrupt but climatic ending.

In order to follow Stabbed on their upward journey to success in heavy music with Long Way Down, simply visit their Facebook page for new and tour dates and their YouTube channel for more of their groovy and mordant music. And if you want to buy Long Way Down (which is available for a full listen on Spotify), you can get it at Stabbed’s BandCamp page or on Amazon. After Long Way Down it’s hard to imagine the world of Post-Sludge Metal without Stabbed, a band that has been building a solid reputation since their genesis and that’s becoming a synonym of modern metal music not only in their homeland, but anywhere else where good music is appreciated.

Best moments of the album: Long Way Down, Tides and Vessel.

Worst moments of the album: Devoid.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing 
1. Long Way Down 3:52
2. Becoming 4:47
3. Tides 4:24
4. Nyctalopia 3:10
5. Lataris 4:33
6. Mute 5:32
7. Devoid 4:10
8. Vessel (feat. Tadeusz Rieckmann) 5:07

Amazon bonus tracks
9. Long Way Down (Instrumental) 3:52
10. Lataris (Instrumental) 4:33

Band members
Alex Karamuskó – vocals
Attila Kecskés – guitar
Gergely Kovács – guitar
Marcell Demeter – bass
Márk Potkovácz – drums

Guest musician
Tadeusz Rieckmann – additional vocals on “Vessel”

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Album Review – Avenford / New Beginning (2017)

A lecture in melodic, progressive and vigorous Power Metal by a band that has all it takes to be one of the greatest names in Power Metal within the next few years.

Rating4

avenford-new-beginningFormed in the summer of 2012 by guitarist Peter Szehoffner and lead singer and guitarist Arpie Gamson in Hungary, inspired by the music by Masterplan, Jorn Lande, Yngwie Malmsteen and Iron Maiden, among others, but currently residing in London, England, Power Metal quartet Avenford has been making a name for themselves in the world of heavy music since their inception, delivering first-class Heavy Metal for fans of melodic guitars, fast and rhythmic drums and epic high-pitched vocal lines. After releasing their debut album in 2014, titled Mortal Price, and after beginning to conquer Europe and the rest of the world with their music, it’s time for Avenford to strike us all again with their fresh new album New Beginning.

The list of guest musicians in New Beginning is quite extensive, each one adding their own share of adrenaline to the final result. We have Apollo Papathanasio (Spiritual Beggars, Firewind), Zoltan Marothy (Kiss Forever Band), Roland Grapow (Masterplan, Helloween), Zoltan Kiss (Iron Maidnem), Bodor Mate (Alestorm) and Piotr Sikora (Exlibis) lending their feeling and refined techniques to Avenford, contributing with Peter, Arpie, bassist Tom Longbottom and drummer Jivodar Dimitrov in crafting beautiful and exciting Heavy Metal perfect for hitting the road, for having a good time with your friends, or for simply relaxing and enjoying it by yourself.

The opening track Dead or Alive doesn’t waste a single second and comes ripping in a heavy and melodic way led by the guitars by Arpie and Peter, suddenly turning into a fast-paced metal feast with guest singer Apollo Papathanasio kicking some serious ass on vocals, resulting in Power Metal at its finest; whereas Back in Time is a Symphonic Power Metal composition with a strong focus on its electrified atmosphere and the fierce drumming by Jivodar, also featuring an amazing solo by guest guitarist Zoltán Maróthy. And progressiveness, intricacy and tons of feeling are the main ingredients in the fast-paced chant Assassin, where not only both guitarists are on fire, blasting beautiful riffs and solos, but the rumbling bass lines by Tom are also very effective and add a lot of groove to the music.

avenfordAlbeit slightly slower, Fury Road is still very progressive and heavy, with the one and only Roland Grapow doing what he does best, which is of course delivering awesomeness though his guitar solo, before the short and pleasant instrumental bridge Maze of Visions builds the ambience for the title-track New Beginning, a heavy power-ballad where Arpie has an amazing performance on vocals while the rest of the band sounds extremely cohesive and focused on delivering top-tier Power Metal to the masses. And in Overlord, a futuristic warlike intro explodes into Progressive Power Metal due to the accelerated beats by Jivodar, with both Arpie and Peter making the perfect dynamic duo on guitars. In other words, if you love high-octane Melodic Heavy Metal, this thrilling tune will definitely please your metallic ears.

With guest singer Zoltán Kiss giving a lesson in melodic vocals, Dark Angel presents the perfect combination of guitars and keyboards the likes of Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica, having all it takes to become a classic among fans of the genre. Besides, how not to get excited with the song’s amazing chorus? In Mask, we’re treated to more electricity and passion for heavy music from Avenford, a very traditional sonority led by the potent vocals by Arpie and the unstoppable drums by Jivodar, and featuring a great guitar solo by another guest Máté Bodor; while Return from the Land of Emeralds is the dream of every musician that loves complex and metallic Power Metal. All band members are in perfect sync in this instrumental feast, with Tom and Jivodar crafting the perfect atmosphere for all the song’s inspiring guitar solos. And my favorite track of the album, Unholy Game, featuring the sharp keyboards by guest musician Piotr Sikora, brings elements from old school Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock that truly elevate the song’s electricity to a whole new level. No one can stand still to such amazing tune, with Arpie being absolutely fantastic on vocals.

In a nutshell, New Beginning is a lecture in melodic, progressive and vigorous Power Metal by a band that sounds like veterans of the genre, despite being on the road for less than a decade, and if you’re fond of this always galvanized genre of heavy music I highly recommend you go visit Avenford’s Facebook page and YouTube channel to get more details on this excellent band and their inspiring music. And of course if you want to add New Beginning to your distinct collection of Power Metal albums, you can find it at the Pride & Joy webshop, at Record Shop X, on iTunes or on Amazon. The name of the album might be New Beginning, but what we have is actually a solid continuation to the career of a band that has an immeasurable potential to become one of the greatest names in Power Metal within the next few years.

Best moments of the album: Dead or Alive, New Beginning, Dark Angel and Unholy Game.

Worst moments of the album: Back in Time.

Released in 2017 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. Dead or Alive 4:22
2. Back in Time 3:50
3. Assassin 4:30
4. Fury Road 4:32
5. Maze of Visions 1:21
6. New Beginning 7:13
7. Overlord 5:41
8. Dark Angel 3:43
9. Mask 3:56
10. Return from the Land of Emeralds 5:49
11. Unholy Game 3:48

Band members
Arpie Gamson – vocals, guitar
Peter Szehoffner – guitar, backing vocals
Tom Longbottom – bass
Jivodar Dimitrov – drums

Guest musicians
Apollo Papathanasio – vocals on “Dead or Alive”
Zoltán Maróthy – lead guitars on “Back in Time”
Roland Grapow – lead guitars on “Fury Road”
Zoltán Kiss – vocals on “Dark Angel”
Máté Bodor – lead guitars on “Mask”
Piotr Sikora – keyboards on “Unholy Game”

Album Review – Stabbed / Submerge EP (2016)

Time to get “stabbed” with the groovy and metallic music by this emerging Hungarian Post-Sludge Metal band.

Rating5

stabbed_cover_fnl_txt_smlIf you appreciate all the crazy progressiveness and pulse from bands such as Opeth, Meshuggah, Katatonia, Mastodon and Tool, I think I have a brand new underground Post-Sludge Metal band hailing from the sophisticated city of Budapest, Hungary that might fulfill your needs for the interesting fusion of the modern Heavy Metal from the late 90’s with the vigorous punch of Groove Metal from the early 00’s. This band answers to the name of Stabbed, and they’ve just released their debut EP, straightforwardly entitled Submerge.

Formed in 2012 as an industrial/ambient rock project by guitarist Attila Kecskes, which culminated in a demo of six songs written and recorded solely by Attila, Stabbed evolved to a bolder and heavier act in 2013, and since then the band has been working hard to deliver good music to fans of contemporary metal music. From the enigmatic album art designed by Hungarian artist Zénó Rolf Farkas (Artphetamin) to the darkling lyrics found in each of its five songs, Submerge offers the listener Stabbed’s current view of the society we live in, also pointing to the direction the band will probably follow in their future releases.

The opening track, Ruins, is fully progressive and groovy from the very first second, proving Stabbed are not kidding when they say they’re heavily influenced by Opeth and Mastodon despite all the additional Metalcore elements found their music. Switching from pure heaviness to ominous passages and back to a more visceral sounding again, this song highlights the precision of drummer Mark Potkovacz behind his kit, as well as its Pantera-inspired solo ending things properly. Creed keeps the high level of energy up with guest vocalist Péter Palotás and its weird but interesting lyrics (“We carved graves into our eyes / Burying illusions of our flawless mind / Tremors of a heavy beating heart / Rupture scars into our restless skull”), getting a lot closer to the demented music played by Mastodon. In addition, pay good attention to the peculiar guitar sounding crafted by Attila and his fellow guitarist Gergely Kovacs, it’s indeed a nice experience.

009-D-FBLast Stand, with its spot-on headbanging beats and riffs, is another song that blends Sludge Metal with Metalcore in a solid manner especially due to the clean vocals by lead singer Alex Karamusko, who by the way also provides a good amount of anger through his harsh screams during the entire EP. And in Reversal a slower and melancholic start suddenly turns into a violent rhythm, with Alex powerfully vociferating the song’s cryptic lyrics (“Leave before they / Picked up your scent / Find out you’re not one of them / Never let yourself be seen / Through the smoke of fears / They will reach inside your dreams”). In a nutshell, this is an introspective Sludge Metal/Metalcore tune with some interesting tempo changes a la Mastodon.

Lastly, closing the EP Stabbed deliver another angry composition entitled Carceri, featuring Peter Kelner as a guest vocalist doing the deeper growls. Let me tell you this partnership works extremely well, turning this into the best tune of the EP in my opinion, with David and Mark smashing their bass guitar and drums respectively until the music flows into a groovy finale.

In order to get “stabbed” with the organic and metallic music by Stabbed, go check their Facebook page, YouTube channel (where you can take a listen at the entire EP) and SoundCloud page, and don’t forget to support this emerging Hungarian act by purchasing Submerge at their BandCamp page, on iTunes (where they also offer the instrumental versions of all songs) and in many others locations.

Best moments of the album: Last Stand and Carceri.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Ruins 5:10
2. Creed (feat. Péter Palotás) 3:09
3. Last Stand 4:17
4. Reversal 5:13
5. Carceri (feat. Peter Kelner) 6:04

Band members
Alex Karamusko – vocals
Attila Kecskes – guitars
Gergely Kovacs – guitars
David Rosko – bass
Mark Potkovacz – drums

Guest musicians
Péter Palotás – additional vocals on “Creed”
Peter Kelner – additional vocals on “Carceri”

Album Review – Ektomorf / Aggressor (2015)

When you listen to this awesome album by one of the best Hungarian metal acts of all time, you’ll definitely become an aggressor.

Rating4

ektomorf_aggressorLast year, when I reviewed the excellent album Retribution, by Hungarian metallers Ektomorf, I said they were a promising band who were undoubtedly going to grow a lot in the following years due to the passion and energy they always invest into their furious mix of Groove and Thrash Metal. Well, it actually took a lot less than expect for them to reach a whole new level of savagery and become a pleasant reality in the world of heavy music, because the 46 minutes of groove and brutality found in their brand new album, entitled Aggressor, kick fuckin’ ass beyond dispute.

In addition, if you listen to Retribution and Aggressor in a row (a highly recommended activity if you’re at the gym, by the way), you’ll easily notice their evolution as musicians, in special frontman Zoltán “Zoli” Farkas who improved his hostile vocals considerably, therefore providing additional layers of fury to his band’s musicality. Not only that, their lyrics continue to be as violent as hell, totally no holds barred, which together with a more complex songwriting offer the listener one of the best Groove Metal albums of the year in my opinion.

The ominous and primeval Intro sets the tone for the massacre straightforwardly entitled I, where you can clearly see how they stepped up their aggressiveness, cohesiveness and technique if compared to most of their old songs. This is one of those tunes that will make your blood boil in a good way, pumping you up for whatever task you’re about to take on. And the title-track Aggressor is even better, making it hard not to break your fuckin’ neck to those insanely heavy riffs. Can you imagine the level of craziness this tune will cause during their live performances? Besides, the groovy bass lines by Szabolcs “Szabi” Murvai are what give the song its balance and punch, enhancing the overall quality of this great composition. In the dark Holocaust, composed “in the memory of the 6 million victims”, Ektomorf raise the flag of “never forgive, never forget” in Auschwitz, inspired by the music by Sepultura and the horrors his people suffered. If you don’t know, Zoli has European Roma/Gypsy roots, who were also massacred by the Nazi, perfectly depicted by this brutal Groove Metal tune with puncturing guitar lines and solos.

Move On gets closer to what they did in Retribution, delivering American Alternative Metal with extra doses of violence. It’s one of those songs drummer Róbert Jaksa might love playing, pounding his drums violently while the rest of the band extracts the fiercest sounds from their instruments, especially guitarist Tamás “Tomi” Schrottner; while Evil By Nature, featuring the iconic George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher, is a flawless mix of the Groove/Thrash Metal by Ektomorf with the unparalleled Death Metal by Cannibal Corpse. Everyone knows I love the growls by Corpsegrinder, and I have to say they matched perfectly with Ektomorf’s musicality. In other words, this is an amazing vocal duo, like two beasts screaming against the rest of the world, with the lyrics being spot-on showing what the human being truly is (“Hate runs through your veins / Insanity in the unspoken words / Deaf from the screams of the devil / Hungry for blood / Hungry for death”). Furthermore, take a read at Zoli’s comments on how the vocals by Corpsegrinder were recorded, giving the song an even more visceral vibe: “We are friends with the Cannibal Corpse guys since a long time. Last year in November I spoke to George (Fisher) about doing a song together. The recent Budapest show of Cannibal Corpse then was the perfect opportunity to meet and record his parts. So I took small home recording studio gear with me and recorded vocals with George in the dressing room before their show. It was fun and turned out killer! The song’s title is “Evil By Nature” and you can be sure that it will smash your face!”

ektomorf 2015Getting back to a more traditional approach, in You Can’t Get More they keep thriving with their unique Eastern European metallic groove. At this point of the album it’s undeniable how Zoli has grown as a singer and a musician, showing you don’t need to stop screaming to evolve in your career, don’t you agree? And I’m not sure if you’ve noticed this already but all songs in Aggressor are connected, enhancing the album’s flow and effectiveness, which is the case in Emotionless World, where they add elements of Melodic Death Metal to the music in a sinister ambience crafted by its sick guitar riffs, and despite its chorus not being purely screamed it ends up working pretty well. Eastside showcases an acoustic intro before it gets as belligerent as possible, with its chorus being fueled by hints of Slipknot. It’s yet another awesome composition inspired by the most obscure periods of the Hungarian history, with Zoli and Tomi doing an amazing job firing sheer darkness through their guitars.

Scars is perhaps the most generic of all songs, lacking more creativity to get to the same level of awesomeness as the other songs, whereas Damned Nation is a beautiful display of how modern Groove Metal should be. Moreover, Zoli bursts his lungs out vociferating the song’s name during the chorus of this boisterous chant made for banging our heads nonstop. The next tune, You Lost, sounds extracted from their previous album Retribution, containing lots of similar elements such as groovy bass lines, rhythmic beats and a solid shift from guttural to clean vocals and vice-versa, followed by the simple but effective You’re Not For Me, which focuses on the screams by Zoli and of course the band’s traditional heaviness. Fans of the band will love this nice blend of a fast sounding and a more rhythmic and aggressive chorus that goes on until the song darkly fades away, being replaced by the purely acoustic track Memento, a melancholic tribute to their roots and to their culture, and maybe a smoother version of the “never forgive, never forget” message as you can see by the name of the song.

In summary, what are you waiting for to connect to Ektomorf on Facebook and to purchase Aggressor at the official AFM Recods webstore (I would personally go for the superb Limited Fanbox edition) or on iTunes? If there’s one lesson Ektomorf can teach all of us, it’s for sure the fact that whenever we listen to their primitive and robust metal music, we become true aggressors.

Best moments of the album: I, Aggressor, Evil By Nature and Eastside.

Worst moments of the album: Scars.

Released in 2015 AFM Records

Track listing
1. Intro 0:45
2. I 3:49
3. Aggressor 2:35
4. Holocaust 3:56
5. Move On 3:04
6. Evil By Nature (feat. George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher) 4:23
7. You Can’t Get More 3:22
8. Emotionless World 3:26
9. Eastside 4:17
10. Scars 3:42
11. Damned Nation 2:39
12. You Lost 2:56
13. You’re Not For Me 4:50
14. Memento 3:03

Band members
Zoltán “Zoli” Farkas – vocals, guitar
Tamás “Tomi” Schrottner – guitar
Szabolcs “Szabi” Murvai – bass
Róbert Jaksa – drums

Guest musician
George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher – additional vocals on “Evil By Nature”

Album Review – Omega Diatribe / Abstract Ritual EP (2015)

Open your mind to the groovy and heavy music by this Hungarian act and you might survive the transmission.

Rating4

cover_HDThere’s a secret ancient writing stem from an unknown alien civilization, a contract between Humans and Aliens about the use of the planet Earth that states Humans could only use the Earth in a limited time, and when our time is over they’ll come back and take us to a higher level planet. However, only the open-minded people could survive the transmission. The government calls it Omega Diatribe, which is also the name of an amazing Hungarian Extreme Groove Metal band formed in Budapest in 2008 by guitarist Gergő Hájer and bassist Ákos Szathmáry.

After the release of their first promo track Forty Minutes, in 2012, and their debut full-length album entitled IAPETVS, in 2013, those Hungarian metallers return stronger than ever with a brand new EP called Abstract Ritual, where they not only keep delivering groovy polyrhythmic metal music, but they also continue their persevering trek through the limitless potential of the human mind. In other words, it’s another auspicious case of elaborate Heavy Metal permeated by an enthralling concept, and if you are a habitual reader of The Headbanging Moose you know how much we value that type of work.

That futuristic view of the world, as well as the power of the human psyche, are already explicit in the modern Thrash/Groove Metal of the opening track Subsequent Phase, with the resonant bass lines by Ákos adding a lot of power to the music. In addition, lead singer Gergely Komáromi translates the message of the lyrics into sheer aggression with his growls, enhanced by the clean and professional production of the album. Right after that promising start, it’s time to get even more barbaric and bang your fuckin’ head to the dark throbbing tune Extrinsic, which offers the listener very thoughtful lyrics despite all the violence found in it (“Don’t push me / Let me decide the fate of body / Questions remain unanswered / Leave vigor for my time / That included doubts / And eternal uncertainty”). Moreover, guitarists Gergő Hájer and Attila Császár deliver those eerie riffs perfect for this type of contemporary metal music, building a much stronger atmosphere that ends up elevating the overall quality of the song.

In Hydrozoan Periods, the band continues the upbuilding of their high-end metal music, with progressiveness and heaviness walking hand in hand. The last part of the song showcases all the anger and skills of the musicians, with highlights to Ákos and drummer Kevin Talley for the cohesive sonority they put up together. The title-track Abstract Ritual is another groovy and heavy feast, showcasing once again the aptitude those guys have for delivering an interesting concept through their lyrics (“How could it be absorbed in the mind when I’d concealed my senses? / And it returns. / It’s me sitting around the sun with these beings / I’d sunk the key for my projections into a cube and swallowed / To attach the new molecules / To be the eye”), not to mention the great performance by Gergely, who puts his heart and soul into singing and screaming those beautiful lyrics.

omega diatribeAnd in order to provide the EP a fresh ending, Omega Diatribe present the instrumental track The Quantum, where the main ingredient is a very interesting speech by the illustrious American esoteric philosopher Terence McKenna, and an alternate version for Unshadowed Days, from their 2013 debut album IAPETVS, which sounds like a completely brand new song to my ears. I personally prefer this new version especially in terms of sound quality and the extra layers of complexity added to it, but you can listen to the original one HERE and take your own conclusions.

There are countless ways to know more about Omega Diatribe and keep in touch with the band, either through their Facebook page, YouTube channel, SoundCloud and, of course, by buying their music at their BandCamp page or at the 515 Studio website. Open your mind to the music in Abstract Ritual, listen and absorb, and you might become part of the selected ones who survive the transmission.

Best moments of the album: Extrinsic and Abstract Ritual.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1. Subsequent Phase 4:48
2. Extrinsic 4:16
3. Hydrozoan Periods 3:17
4. Abstract Ritual 4:46
5. The Quantum 3:27
6. Unshadowed Days (Perception Remix) 6:44

Band members
Gergely Komáromi – vocals
Gergő Hájer – lead guitar
Attila Császár – guitar
Ákos Szathmáry – bass
Tommy Kiss* – drums

Additional musician
Kevin Talley – drums (studio recording)

* Drummer Tommy Kiss joined Omega Diatribe at the beginning of 2015.

Album Review – Ann My Guard / Innocence Descent (2014)

A very professional and vigorous album of alternative heavy music enhanced by an amazing feminine touch.

Rating4

AnnMyGuard_IDI’ll be honest with you and admit Alternative Metal has never been on my top picks whenever I want to listen to music. As I’ve said a couple of times here, I usually stick to the foundations of Heavy Metal. However, sometimes it’s interesting (and good for your brain) to listen to bands outside of this traditional world, especially when the band is as technical and pleasant as Hungarian “Doll Metal” band Ann My Guard, who have recently released their debut album, the energetic Innocence Descent.

This 4-piece band from the stunning city of Budapest, Hungary, took around six long years to thoroughly write the whole album, a process that might look too exhausting at first but that was definitely worth every second and penny spent in the end. Produced by the most renowned producer in their native Hungary, Gábor Vári, the album couldn’t sound more professional and ready for the absurdly competitive and demanding music market than that: Innocence Descent is a great mix of Alternative Metal and Rock with a huge focus on melody and harmony (something commonly done by most European bands), which will please fans of Evanescence, Hole, Kittie, H.I.M. and all other bands that are part of that more “delicate” side of heavy music.

As soon as the interesting intro Enchant begins, you can already notice all the band’s aforementioned influences, which becomes even clearer in Grey Witch, with its Alternative Metal riffs and the smooth vocals by Eszter. Moreover, its high-end production and the excellent chorus make it an excellent option for becoming a radio hit. Another important detail in Innocence Descent are the lyric themes, with pretty much every song talking about women, witches, sex and all other taboos present in the feminine world.

Getting back to the music, it seems the band loves deep key notes such as the ones found in Dark Sea Blue, a song that flirts with Pop Rock without losing that heavier approach from Alternative Metal, and the melancholic Ivory Ballad. Then we have the strong bass lines and nice drumming from Crush Honey, which sounds like some old songs from Hole, and the awesome rhythm from the powerful Morgana’s Song, another excellent example of how Ann My Guard took care of all details in their musicality to sound as professional as possible. Once again, I should say this song could easily be played in any Rock N’ Roll radio around the world.

AnnMyGuardThe next part of the album slows things down a little in a very introspective way, starting with the short acoustic ballad Hollow Red (which focus 100% on Eszter’s voice to enhance its atmosphere), followed by another ballad, My Lullaby, with beautiful lyrics and lots of harmony, and Easy, a melancholic tune with highlights to the good work done by guitarists István Tagcherer and Krisztián Varga both in the slow and the fast parts of the song. But it’s when the band accelerates their music that they hit the bull’s-eye in my opinion: H.K.A. Bitch has lots Punk Rock elements blended with Nu Metal, which together with its heavy riffs and acid lyrics turn it into a perfect choice for entertaining a more energetic audience during their live performances; while the vigorous Fallen follows a similar pattern as the previous track, boosted by some rhythmic variations and a delicate but strong chorus.

And lastly, Ann My Guard offer us the semi-acoustic ballad Gone, with highlights to the good guitar solo at the end of the song, and Circles, a unique Pop Rock track that gets heavier halfway through the song before fading into a melancholic rhythm to close the album.

You can take a good listen at the entire album HERE, and also support Ann My Guard by purchasing their official merchandise, or a digital copy of the album on iTunes or Amazon. As I said before, if you’re a fan of alternative heavy music with a feminine touch, Innocence Descent is indubitably one of the best new options in the market. I’m pretty sure all members of the band are proud of their “baby”, and you won’t be disappointed at all with the professionalism and vitality of their music.

Best moments of the album: Morgana’s Song, H.K.A. Bitch and Fallen.

Worst moments of the album: Dark Sea Blue and Gone.

Released in 2014 Smash Fabric Records

Track listing
1. Enchant 1:23
2. Grey Witch 3:11
3. Dark Sea Blue 3:48
4. Ivory Ballad 4:01
5. Crush Honey 4:15
6. Morgana’s Song 3:19
7. Hollow Red 1:19
8. My Lullaby 3:59
9. Easy 2:57
10. H.K.A. Bitch 1:55
11. Fallen 3:42
12. Gone 3:35
13. Circles 7:44

Band members
Eszter Anna Baumann – vocals, bass, flute, keys
István Tagcherer – guitars
Krisztián Varga – guitars
Joci Vadász – drums

Album Review – Ektomorf / Retribution (2014)

A very good “primitive” album from a relatively new Eastern European Groove/Thrash Metal band.

Rating5

ektomorf_retributionAlthough Retribution is already Ektomorf’s 9th studio album, it’s the first one from this Groove/Thrash Metal Hungarian band founded in 1993 I’ve ever listened to, and to be honest with you I felt really happy to know there are still some new bands in the world doing this more primitive and aggressive type of music, even though it’s not totally original.

I read somewhere that due to the gypsy background from lead singer/founder Zoltán “Zoli” Farkas (he’s from Mezőkovácsháza, a small Hungarian city near the border of Romania), he faced a lot of racism and prejudice that held back Ektomorf from an international career. Fortunately, it seems all this bullshit is being expunged from our society and replaced by wise people willing to listen to good heavy music, no matter where it comes from.

Retribution starts in a very brutal way with the excellent song You Can’t Control Me, whose intro, heavy riffs and constant pounding already remind me of the musicality from Sepultura, Soulfly and even Slipknot. One characteristic found not only in this track, but in the whole album, is Zoli’s pronounced Eastern European accent: it’s not bad though, just different, and ends up adding something more rudimentary or “primeval” to the overall quality of the album.

When I listened to the next track, the groovier Ten Plagues, I immediately thought about Max Cavalera being probably one of Zoli’s biggest idols, as well as Anders Fridén, from Swedish Melodic Death Metal icons In Flames. The following track, Face Your Fear, sounds like a heavy sequence to the previous track, while Escape has a more modern sonority and it’s the closest one to the American Nu Metal. Then comes Who The Fuck Are You, the most Thrash Metal track of Retribution, and probably the one with the angriest lyrics of all too.

The album goes on with Numb And Sick, with its great riffs and the clean vocals from Cris Machado (Ill Niño) complementing Zoli’s guttural, making it one of the best of the album. In my humble opinion, this type of partnership with some established North American bands like Ill Niño is extremely important, as it’s usually what opens the doors in the United States and Canada to bands from different parts of the world, like Ektomorf, something that North America is in desperate need due to the amount of prefabricated junk we have to swallow down every single day while watching TV or listening to the radio here.

ektomorfGetting back to Retribution, Lost And Destroyed is for me the weakest track of the album, mainly due to the lack of violence, while Souls Of Fire is totally based on the music from Sepultura, especially from Against or Sepulnation, with its awesome rampant rythym. Then Ektomorf offer us an excellent and damn heavy version for Verbal Abuse’s I Hate You: although I still prefer the version from my Thrash Metal heroes Slayer, I must admit Zoli and his crew did an astounding job here too. Another very good track is Watch Me, which is even more inspired by Sepultura, more specifically in the song Dusted from the classic album Roots.

The last part of the album has Mass Ignorance, another violent track with great riffs and vocals; Save Me, which is a lot slower than the rest of the album, but as heavy as hell anyway; and  Whisper, a song with a very interesting riff and many music elements from bands such as In Flames and Soilwork. The CD version also contains a bonus track called Collapsed Bridge, a nice semi-acoustic ballad where it’s possible to notice the band’s gypsy influences.

The very inspired album art is also another highlight of Retribution, and again it might be just me but I can see a high influence from Sepultura’s Roots and Against there too. In summary, a very good album from a band not many people know about, and a great step for a band that should gain more respect and grow musically and creatively speaking in their path to success.

Best moments of the album: You Can’t Control Me, Numb And Sick, Souls Of Fire and I Hate You.

Worst moments of the album: Lost And Destroyed and Save Me.

Released in 2014 AFM Records

Track listing
1. You Can’t Control Me 2:15
2. Ten Plagues 3:20
3. Face Your Fear 2:23
4. Escape 3:24
5. Who The Fuck Are You 2:32
6. Numb And Sick (feat. Cris Machado) 2:42
7. Lost And Destroyed 4:09
8. Souls Of Fire 4:26
9. I Hate You (Verbal Abuse cover) 2:08
10. Watch Me 3:23
11. Mass Ignorance 2:42
12. Save Me 2:50
13. Whisper 5:56

CD bonus track
14. Collapsed Bridge 3:07

Band members
Zoltán “Zoli” Farkas – vocals, guitar
Tamás “Tomi” Schrottner – guitar
Szabolcs “Szabi” Murvai – bass
Róbert Jaksa – drums

Guest musicians
Cris Machado – clean vocals on “Numb And Sick”